The AERFER Ariete swept-wing jet fighter was given additional boost power through a second, lower-thrust turbojet buried in its fuselage.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Credit: Image from the Public Domain.
In an effort to refine the earlier AERFER "Sagittario 2" ("Archer 2") swept-wing, jet-powered demonstrator into an operational-quality fighting form, company engineers produced the related "Ariete" ("Ram"). This version retained the former's swept-back wing elements which were mated to a redesigned fuselage. Despite the change, the aircraft still mimicked form and function of the earlier design on the whole. Unlike the Sagittario 2, power in the Ariete would come from a twin-turbojet arrangement - primarily propulsion from a Rolls-Royce "Derwent 9" series turbojet of 3,600 pounds thrust with a secondary boost feature provided by a Rolls-Royce "Soar" RSr 2 auxiliary turbojet, this offering an additional 1,810 pounds of thrust.
First flight of an Ariete prototype occurred on March 27th, 1958. The auxiliary engine was meant to add considerable output power for the compact, lightweight fighter and drew its air through an interesting, retractable, dorsally-mounted intake. The primary engine fit was still aspirated through the nose intake ductwork. Its close association with the earlier Sagittario 2 meant that many qualities of this new aircraft were carried over - the low undercarriage height, bubble canopy and conventional tail unit being some. Proposed armament for the fighter role was 2 x 30mm HDD-825 series internal cannons though these were never fitted.
The Ariete program produced just one flyable prototype with a second airframe laying incomplete. There was thought given to replacing the thirsty auxiliary turbojet in the aft section of the fuselage with a simpler rocket booster unit - to produce the AERFER "Leone" prototype - but this initiative was not followed through. To that end, the Ariete completed the line of high-performance aircraft begun in the pre-World War 2 years with the AERFER S.7 prop-powered racer.
Performance specifications for the Ariete included a maximum speed of 675 miles per hour, a service ceiling up to 39,360 feet, and a rate-of-climb nearing 2,665 feet per minute.
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